Opera Neo presents the American premiere of Nicola Porpora’s Polifemo, performed for the first time outside of Europe.
Nicola Porpora was one of the most brilliant and influential musical figures of the Baroque period. A rival of Handel, and teacher of the great castrato Farinelli, Porpora was a prolific and dramatically gifted composer of opera. We are excited to bring this important work to American audiences for the first time.
Based on Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Polifemo weaves together the stories of Polyphemus, Acis, and Galatea and an episode of Homer’s Odyssey featuring Odysseus, Polyphemus, and Calypso. The opera was composed in London, where Porpora was invited by a group of English noblemen, at the urging of two famous singers, Farinelli and Senesino, (both students of Porpora) to compete with Handel. It was a rarity to hear two superstar castrato singers in the same opera, along with the other renowned performers who appeared in the premiere.
Porpora’s score was written to be the perfect vehicle to showcase the virtuosity of these legendary artists, full of impressive fireworks and moving slow arias.
Performed at the UC San Diego's Park & Market, this American premiere is directed by Daria Zholnerova, in her Opera Neo debut, with Peter Kozma leading Opera Neo's period instrument orchestra.